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The Alphabet Reorganization Made Google's Weekly Meetings a Little More Down to Earth

It is Sundar's show now.

Jason Sullivan / Getty Images

Six months into its existence, Alphabet, Google’s holding company, is still sorting itself out. For the non-Google companies, that means forming their own teams and structure and unhinging a bit from the mothership.

Here’s a sign of that rift: Ever since the Alphabet reorg in August, the Google weekly all-hands meetings — known as TGIF — have focused squarely on Google, not the other Alphabet parts. That’s according to multiple current Googlers, who would rather not use their names because Google gets prickly about even that sort of stuff.

Alphabet honchos Larry Page and Sergey Brin kick off the talks, as they have since founding Google, but swiftly surrender the stage to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

“They just come in and make some dad jokes,” said one Googler.

TGIF looms in Google legend, an indication of the company’s devotion to total transparency within its walls (though opacity outside them). The founders field any question from a Googler. Original business chief Omid Kordestani used to stand atop a carton to announce the company’s financial figures at the meetings. And when Google started toying around with projects well beyond its Internet operations, TGIF was a place to showcase them.

But now those projects are the realm of separate subsidiaries. A few of those have dropped the native name — Google Ventures is now GV; Google Life Sciences is now Verily; Google X is now just X — in a sign of independence. It is some evidence of the claim Alphabet execs have made that they want to build a portfolio of autonomous businesses, distinct from Google proper.

Don’t feel bad for Googlers, however. They still have moonshots of their own. Virtual reality (including Glass 2.0) remains in Google Inc., along with AI efforts, such as the board-game-clobbering DeepMind, a TGIF favorite.

Here’s a look at a happy birthday TGIF from 1999, when Google was much smaller and its founders were much younger. (Still making dad jokes, though.)

Update: Sadly, you have to click through to YouTube to see the video below — thank Google for that. It’s worth it; there’s silly string, flip phones and some great ’90s fashion.

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